Allow pregnant girls back to schools, lobby groups urge President Suluhu
Eight organisations have raised the plight of pregnant girls in Tanzania calling on President Samia Suluhu to address the directive on re-entry to school.
According to them, the directive from the late President John Magufuli led to ambiguity and lack of understanding on the school re-entry policy for pregnant adolescent girls.
“Despite uproar from National and Global CSOs, the case of the school re-entry policy is still not clear,” the statement from the lobby groups reads.
In 2017, the Tanzanian government, in a presidential decree, stated that pregnant adolescents girls should not be allowed to access school.
The late Dr Magufuli, who was speaking at a public rally in Chalinze town, about 100km west of the main city Dar es Salaam, said that young mothers would be distracted if they were allowed back in school: “After calculating some few mathematics, she’d be asking the teacher in the classroom: ‘Let me go out and breastfeed my crying baby.”‘
Adolescent pregnancy is a worldwide problem: in Sub-Saharan Africa, an increasing number of girls are becoming mothers by the age of 18 years old.
The lobby groups state that Tanzania has one of the world’s highest teen pregnancy rates.
According to the Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS 2015-16), 27 percent of adolescent women aged 15-19 are already mothers or are pregnant with their first child.
Adolescent women with no education are said to be five times more likely as those with second, or higher education to have begun childbearing (52% versus 10%).
The lobby groups aver that teenage childbearing also varies by economic status, ranging from 13% among adolescent women in the wealthiest households to 42% among those in the poorest households.
By region, teenage childbearing in Tanzania is reported to be ranging from 5% in Mjini Magharibi to 45% in Katavi.
“While we recognize that you spoke on this as vice president while calling on the pregnant adolescent girls to be readmitted back to school, we believe in your new role of of head of state, you will translate your speech into act,” their statement reads.
They are urging President Suluhu to:
- ensure that adolescent girls who have been impregnated and teenage mothers have a chance to go back to school by implementing the guidelines on how to enable pregnant girls to continue with their studies
- remove all structural and systematic barriers that hinder girls from going back to schools, putting an end to early and forced marriage a adolescent girls to give all girls an opportunity to fufil their potential
- ensure provision of psycho-social support for teenage mothers and pregnant girls.
- ensure that adolescent girls and teen mothers are equipped with knowledge, skills and attitudes that help them to make informed choices now and in the future for healthy and fulfilling lives, including Comprehensive Sexuality Education.
- ensure that policies are clear on the school re-entry for adolescent girls who have been impregnated and teenage mothers
- ensure that teachers, learning and health institutions are supported to ensure there is no discrimination of adolescent girls and taboo conversation around comprehensive sexuality education and ensure no one is left behind and discriminated against.
The eight organizations are the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights Africa; Youth Changers Kenya – Kenya; Youth Accountability and Strategy Network; Youth Empowerment Movement Kenya; Zamara Foundation; Global Hope Mobilisation; Haki Zetu Tanzania; Wadada Solutions on Gender Based Violence organization and the Centre for youth and Children Affairs
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